‘No tears left to cry’

Buffalo has one more chance for glory this season

nate-edited
The Spectrum

OK, this one hurts. 

The Bulls had the ball with one minute remaining, down one point and had a chance for redemption after blowing a 19-point lead.

I stood on the sideline anxiously awaiting each play. I watched Adam Mitcheson warm up for what would be the biggest kick of his career. I noticed the frustration on his and many others’ faces when Buffalo was called for a penalty to force fourth down.

I saw the tears run down players' faces as Tyree Jackson’s pass fell incomplete.

Northern Illinois completed the upset and the Bulls’ dreams of celebrating a championship were gone.

The Buffalo crowd that traveled all the way to Detroit wasn’t satisfied. Fans had blank stares, hands covering their mouths, they shouted obscenities and there was total shock.

But it wasn’t until after the game when I read and saw the reactions of “fans” where I was in total shock.

These fans called the loss embarrassing, said head coach Lance Leipold was gutless, called Tyree Jackson brainless.

They want Leipold and Athletic Director Mark Alnutt fired, they want a whole new coaching staff and one said to cancel the entire program.

Worst of all, the season was referred to as a waste.

Excuse me, what?

How can you call this season a waste because of one game? Yes, we’re not the champions and yes, it would have been nice to celebrate for the first time in 10 years. But guess what: this is still the best season in the past 10 years. The players and coaching staff you were so quickly to blame and give up on made it happen.

The Bulls accomplished more this season than ever before. They had a program record for wins, the best conference record of all time, averaged roughly 35 points per game and received attention that they have never received before. 

Leipold and his staff brought the Buffalo football program to new heights. In the staff’s five years, every player on this team has been the result of their recruiting. Now, Buffalo has back to back .500 seasons for the first time in Division I.

The Bulls took risks on Junior College players like Khalil Hodge and Anthony Johnson. They allowed James Patterson to enroll in the spring to play with his brother Jaret. They have brought in more players from the local area to make significant impacts on the team.

One loss does not define a team.

No player at UB made a negative comment toward the atmosphere of the program and the coaching staff. They didn’t complain last season when they weren’t even given a chance to prove themselves.

UB football left its blood, sweat and literal tears at Ford Field on Friday.

The Bulls will get one more chance this season. One more chance to show this is the best team Buffalo has ever seen.

With a Bulls win at a bowl game, all will be forgotten from the conference championship game. Buffalo will be able to prove itself to all the armchair quarterbacks and couch coaches who think they can do a better job.

But the Bulls have already validated themselves. This is a great team and should be congratulated for all the achievements they’ve had this past year. Just because they didn’t win the ugliest trophy in sports will make the lifting of the Dollar General Bowl that much sweeter.

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson